We are thrilled to shout out one of our micro-grants recipients, Eric, a dedicated data science and economics student set to graduate in 2024. With a background in consulting, software engineering, and internships at Capital One and YC-backed startup Factored Quality (created by a CWRU alumni), Eric's passion for technology, global events, and politics has been a driving force for his new Startup.
Eric's journey began with personal frustrations. He found it increasingly challenging to navigate the sea of news sources and make informed choices on his ballot. "I wanted to understand who I could vote for and what the issues were," Eric explained. The disconnect between the voices dominating his news cycle and the names on his ballot especially troubled him.
Frustration with the complexities of politics led to the creation of Voteable, a platform aimed at empowering individuals to gain a deeper understanding of the political world. At its core, Eric succinctly defined the idea as follows: "By entering your address, Voteable can identify every officeholder, candidate, and ballot issue relevant to you." This enables us to bring you e news articles from diverse sources, providing users with a comprehensive, bipartisan perspective on the political landscape. Currently, Voteable has been introduced on CWRU campus, with expansion plans into other regions underway. Eric disclosed, "We are already in discussions with Lorain County to broaden our reach."
What sets Voteable apart is its commitment to community involvement. Eric and his team are urging individuals to sign up for beta testing, where they can use the app and provide crucial feedback. Voter input, Eric emphasized, is pivotal in shaping the project's development.
While Eric is the face of Voteable, he's quick to acknowledge the support he's received from co-founders and various programs. "Programs like the LaunchNET microgrant and EEC's Tech Side Hustle Program in 2022-23 have been vital," Eric said, "in providing funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities." These programs have been vital for his platform, enabling him to survey over 700 people to understand their needs.
According to Eric, the NEO LaunchNET community has played an essential role, as well. Eric expressed deep gratitude for the support and guidance provided by these organizations, which have been instrumental in navigating critical business decisions.
The LaunchNET micro-grant, Eric pointed out, has played a pivotal role in Voteable's development. Last yearr, it supported "surveying and customer discovery, website development, and other foundational aspects of the project." This year, the grant is being used to place the beta in voters’ hands. “ Eric also noted that, “the advice and guidance from mentors have been crucial in navigating critical business decisions.”
Reflecting on his entrepreneurial journey, Eric offered valuable advice. He stressed, "Less thinking and more doing." Starting a business, he highlighted, requires taking the plunge, even when things feel uncomfortable. "You can't make progress or iterate an idea without diving in and getting started," Eric emphasized.
For students interested in starting their own ventures, Eric's advice was clear: "Go for it" and "Have a specific niche." He underlined the importance of finding a specific area where your idea can make a genuine impact.
In the next five years, Eric hopes to build up the platform to increase coverage across the nation, as well as expand the feature set to "create opportunities for voters to better engage with not just news, but politicians and other voters themselves.". Understanding that scalability is a hurdle, the team wants to create "APIs and tools for verifying locations." Their ultimate objectives are to raise the capital required to expand Voteable's reach across the country, improve its functionality, and "allow a social media-like feature where politicians from your area can directly connect to the people."
Voteable is on a mission to revolutionize the way people engage with politics and make informed decisions, and Eric's words are a testament to its potential. To learn more about Voteable and to sign up for beta testing, visit Voteable.us. Beta testers can reach out directly to Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.